With All Your Heart

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
—Jeremiah 29:13

Good counselors ask good questions. The counselor who helped me work through my season of depression once asked me a question that revealed a source of my pain and a path I needed to take toward healing. She asked, “Who knows your whole story?”

“Whole story?” I replied, not because I didn’t understand the question but because I wasn’t sure how I would answer.

“Yes, your whole story. Who knows everything about what’s happening in your life?”

After a moment of silent soul-searching, my honest answer, which felt more like a confession, was “No one.” Not my colleagues, not my friends, not my brother or sister, not even my wife knew everything about the struggle I was facing. Answering that one question revealed to me one significant source of my depression.

Though I affirm the belief that God is omniscient—that God knows everything—in one important way, God didn’t know my whole story either. God didn’t know in the sense that I hadn’t brought my struggle to him in honest prayer and offered it to him to be illumined by his truth and transformed by his grace. Part of my heart, the part that was most wounded, was private property. No one was allowed there but me.

I was doing to God what I’d been doing to my church. For many weeks, I put on a good front, answered the bell when the time came to lead another worship service or wedding or funeral or committee meeting, but I was careful not to disclose the part of me that was dying more than living. I had been giving God a performance but not my heart—at least not my whole heart.

When I hear the challenge to do something “with your whole heart,” I first think of it as a call to give greater effort to what I want to achieve. This is not what Jeremiah means when he calls us to seek God with all our hearts. Jeremiah is calling us not to greater effort but to greater honesty. If you and I want to find God in our struggle with depression, we must bring everything in our hearts to him for hearing and for healing. We can’t pray and hide at the same time, not when facing such a deep wound and urgent need.

Finding God in the battle of depression begins with coming to God in the spirit of the old hymn, “Just as I Am.” I have to seek God with all my heart, everything that is in my heart, if I want God to guide me in finding the road that leads from where I truly am to where I long to be.

Prayer

God of truth, I struggle to bring all that is in my heart to you. You are holy, and so many of the thoughts and feelings I have right now seem so wrong. Teach me that the only way to find you is, as Jesus said, in spirit and in truth. I trust your love for me enough to give you my whole heart, everything that is in my heart, so you can begin to make it new. Amen.

Truth to Affirm

Healing from depression demands the honesty and courage to give God everything that is in my heart.

This post originally appeared in Seeing in the Dark: Biblical Meditations for People Dealing with Depression by Ronald D. Vaughan.

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